Climate & Energy Blog

Telling their stories: The fight to stop the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline

Posted Dec. 16, 2010 / Posted by: Kelly Trout

Friends of the Earth’s dirty fuels campaign is working to stop the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry dirty tar sands oil from Canada across six U.S. states to refineries in Texas. We're fighting this pipeline in solidarity with individuals that are already impacted by tar sands oil extraction and with individuals who would be directly impacted by the Keystone XL pipeline. We have compiled some of their stories to share with you. These interviews speak directly to the environmental and personal impacts the pipeline could have on many communities. They also inspire action to fight back against the Keystone XL pipeline and tar sands oil.

Read on for stories from the front lines of this fight...


Kim Marcel is a long-term resident of Fort Chipewyan, the home of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations, a community directly downstream from the tar sands extraction site. She has always been interested in the environment and concerned about what the tar sands oil industry is doing to destroy it. She has been a voice in her community on these issues for many years. Over the last few months, Kim has begun speaking to the wider world about the tar sands. Kim believes her family’s way of life is being jeopardized by the actions of the tar sands industry. She maintains the government has neglected Fort Chipewyan by allowing Suncor and other tar sands oil companies to pollute the water and threaten her community’s livelihood.

Read Kim's story


François Paulette is a member of the Smith's Landing Treaty 8 Dene First Nation and lives 200 miles downstream from the tar sands industry site in Alberta, Canada. Francois believes that the way of life for many people living in First Nation lands in Canada is quickly changing, leaving many people uncertain about the future. The drastic drop in water levels in the Athabasca River system and a lack of fresh water for drinking are the biggest concerns for aboriginal communities living downstream from tar sands oil extraction. Inspired to stop oil sands from destroying his community, Francois visited Washington, D.C. in September 2010 as part of a delegation of Canadian First Nations leaders. He met with the White House to share his concerns about the environmental toll on Canada’s downstream communities.

Read François's story


David Daniel is a 43-year-old carpenter living in Winsboro, Texas, a small community of a couple thousand people in East Texas. Daniel fell in love with the community for its natural beauty and purchased some land shortly after his first visit. Now after building a home with his wife on his dream property, David faces losing his prized land to TransCanada, which wants to build the Keystone XL pipeline directly through his property. He intends to seek all legal means to stop TransCanada from erecting this inherently dirty and dangerous pipeline that would change his community irrevocably.

Read David's story


Karla Land was born and raised in Texas, and settled in Channelview in 1979 after marrying her husband. Together they own and operate Land Cycles, a motorcycle repair shop and garage in town. Karla is not new to the fight against dirty oil companies' pollution. As a member of North Channelview Concerned Citizens Against Pollution, she has fought against ExxonMobil, Shell, and Chevron’s refineries and shipping docks in her community. She will continue to fight against the oil industry and specifically the Keystone XL pipeline so that her friends and family will not be further exposed to the toxins that have plagued the community with cancer.

Read Karla's story


Theresa Landrum is a native Detroiter and has lived on the same block in the city’s southwest side since she was born. Her neighborhood, known by its 48217 zip code, is the most polluted area in the state of Michigan and is home to some of the most toxic facilities imaginable. Yet expansion of this dirty industry continues -- Marathon Oil’s Detroit refinery, for example, is planning a massive $2 billion expansion to increase its capacity for refining oil from Canada’s tar sands. Theresa and her community are fighting against the continued presence of toxins in their neighborhood, and vigorously opposing projects like the Keystone XL pipeline, which would only exacerbate pollution.

Read Theresa's story


Ernie Fellows is life-long resident of Mills, Nebraska, a remote community nestled atop the Ogallala Aquifer along the South Dakota border. When Ernie came of age, he was charged with taking over the family land. “I took that to mean that I need to be a good steward of the land,” Ernie reflected in recounting the years of careful work he put into improving the ranch. However, the fruits of Fellows’ labor are under threat. TransCanada, a Canadian oil corporation, is planning to route the Keystone XL pipeline through his property and with it comes the threat of contaminated water supplies and damage to property and to nearby livestock. Ernie, never before an environmentalist, is speaking out against the tar sands oil pipeline and its potential impacts on his community.

Read Ernie's story

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